November 2019 - Returning to the woods

One of the woodland rangers with the Brecon Beacons and Monmouthshire National Trust team

Our woodlands team not only manage and care for the variety of trees across our sites but are also instrumental in other projects across the Brecon Beacons and Monmouthshire area. After a busy few months at one of our tenancy farms, here’s what’s on the horizon for the team.

Giving nature a helping hand

Ffynnonau Farm near Abergavenny has been our home for much of the summer, undertaking the infrastructure work needed in its transition to becoming a nature friendly farm for our new tenants.  Now that the winter chill is starting to creep back, we are looking forward to returning to the woods.  With tree surveys to be completed and further restoration works to be continued we have a busy few months ahead, as well as whatever the winter storms throw at us.

Increasing the hedge margins, increasing space for nature on Ffynnonau’s river fields
The improved river fields at Ffynnonau Farm near Abergavenny
Increasing the hedge margins, increasing space for nature on Ffynnonau’s river fields

Surveying our trees

At this time of year, we survey our trees, particularly in areas of high usage, as a health check to their condition.  With the colder months, this is when the tell-tale signs of fungus tend to appear, as well as the leaves beginning to drop which gives us a clearer view of the tree’s structure.  Over the last few years, a further part of these surveys has been in relation to ash dieback. 

There are specific changes we look for to determine if the disease is causing any issues for the ash trees in our woodlands.  These surveys in turn often create a work list. Wherever possible we look to retain trees through mitigating works or tree surgery, but occasionally when these avenues of work are exhausted, trees do need to be removed entirely and plans made for succession.

Patience is key

We are roughly halfway through our restoration works in Skirrid Woods near Abergavenny, and as well as seeing some great results, we can also see there is quite a bit more to be done.  Following the track that loops around the woods, as a visitor you can see for yourself the contrast in the woods, of the areas that have been worked and those that are yet to be.  When you visit, do keep an eye out for our signage and machinery as we are due back soon to carry on our selective thinning works and timber extraction.

Halo thinning around a veteran tree at Skirrid Woods near Abergavenny
Marvel at ancient trees in our woodlands
Halo thinning around a veteran tree at Skirrid Woods near Abergavenny

If you've been inspired by the work of the woodlands team, come back next month for Phoebe’s blog, sharing her first-year highlights as Business Support Coordinator for the Brecon Beacons and Monmouthshire team.